So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
My greatest experience with the weariness, and joy of these verses came as a two-year-old Sunday School teacher. The attention span of a preschooler is about one minute per year of age, so trying to figure out if you actually taught anything in those two minutes is a miracle in itself. But there was one Sunday God showed me what a difference my time was making. A young little guy, who came on the church bus, had hardly said anything during the weeks before. As all the toddlers moved about, playing happily, he pointed to a picture on the wall and said "Jesus." My heart jumped inside my chest. JESUS...he knew the man in the picture was JESUS. Weeks of anxiety and the stress of wrestling toddlers, spending more time cleaning up toys than actually teaching or so it seemed, melted away with the sweetest name on earth...JESUS.
Every day I am blessed to work with hundreds of volunteers. Whether its a church volunteer position or another organization, volunteering has its ups and downs. We all grow weary from time to time and wonder if we are really making a difference. A few quick notes:
- The verses preceeding these command us to carry each others burdens...in other words to help others. God calls us to volunteer!
- Listen to God's call regarding where you are to serve. Not everyone was called to a leadership position. Ask for guidance on where he wants you to serve.
- God first, family second, church third, then everyone else. He expects us to have an intimate relationship with him. He expects us to take care of our family. Then other things fall into place. Don't let your volunteering stand in the way of number one and number two on this list, instead let it enhance those relationships.
- Some people are natural "volunteers" and have the gift of service. Some are not and have to work at it. Some people are just waiting to be asked to volunteer. If you lead an organization, don't wait on volunteers or depend on those who say they will serve, seek opportunities to involve new people...and ask. If a "no" could kill you, I would have been dead a long time ago!
- Don't ever serve out of obligation. I've done it...stayed in a position too long, or served because no one else would take the role. Not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to others. The right person may not be in a leadership position because you are still there. You may be missing a blessing because the role in which you were intended to serve is not being filled because you won't let go of the one you are in.
- Do not be weary in well doing. This is my favorite part of these verses during Relay Season. One day we will find the cure for cancer...and all the hard work and long hours will be worth it. One day we will be standing in heaven, looking around at smiling faces we served here on earth. Don't give up!
- Serving others is not easy. People will let you down. You won't be recognized for your effort. You'll spend time wondering if it is all worth it. However its our duty, and our master set a great example for us. He came to this earth, suffered and died for us. As hard as serving others may seem at times, we're not called to sacrifice our lives.
- If you happen to be one of my volunteers reading this...thank you so much! I may not say it enough, but I thank God for each of you and the work you do. I am blessed to serve with amazing people.
Verse 9 reminds us we will reap at the proper time. Serving/volunteering has its rewards. One day we'll see the true fruits of our labors. Until then, we'll get gentle reminders...a young child speaking the name of Jesus, singing "Happy Birthday" to a cancer survivor knowing they have been gifted with another year, seeing a life become a child of Christ because you took the time to take them to church.
May God lead you today to blessed service opportunities and show you the rewards of your time.